WAâ€™S BAPTIST NEWSPAPER
COVID-19 APRIL 2020
COVID-19’s impact Since starting this edition, the world has stepped into an unprecedented situation with novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Advocate has moved to digital-only as a result.
Stay connected This unique situation births innovation as the Church works to create community while maintaining social distancing. Our society is hyperconnected, with many technologies available, including phones, email, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. These tools can be used to help keep churches and small groups connected, often using the group features that the applications host. During this time there are those in congregations who are less ‘connected’, including the elderly, who are also the most vulnerable. It’s important to try to keep the vulnerable connected, but safe. Children and youth should also be considered as they witness the hysteria in society. Bible Society have amazing resources available online for these age brackets to keep them engaged and developing in their faith. To access these free resources, visit www.play.bible For Baptist Churches Western Australia’s helpful advice, information and ideas on how to be church in these new times, details are provided on the BCWA website. Please go to baptistwa.asn.au and click on the COVID-19 banner. Practical measures It is highly recommended that everyone follows the advice directly from the state and federal government health websites www.health.gov.au and www.health.wa.gov.au as the situation is ever-changing. The government continues to enhance measures to slow the virus and save lives, at the time of publication these measures include: • public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people • everyone should stay home unless you are shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education
places of worship must shut, other than for the purposes of a wedding or funeral with the following additional guidelines: - Weddings with a maximum attendance of no more than five people (celebrant, couple being married and two witnesses), and the one person per four square metre of floor space rule applies. - Funerals attended by a maximum of no more than ten people and the one person per four square of floor space metre rule applies. the only people that remain in a church building, are employed staff where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others avoid non-essential travel.
On a hygiene level it is recommended that everyone follows good hygiene practices including: • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue • disposing of tissues properly • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces • avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people, especially with people at higher risk such as older people and people with existing health conditions • cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets. Above all else, our hope is in salvation. Western Australia and the world will get through this. Our prayer at BCWA echoes Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” To stay connected, follow Baptist Churches Western Australia on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ BaptistChurchesWA/
The team behind this publication feel the importance of The Advocate to bring positivity and community in Baptist churches and beyond. Rather than changing the entire edition to focus on these changing times, the choice was made to preserve it – to give alternative news and to provide respite in the stream of COVID-19 information. Subscribe to The Advocate digital editions by going to: tinyurl.com/bcwaadvocate2020 The Church is more vital than ever to provide hope.
Simple steps to help stop the spread. Cough or sneeze into your arm
Use a tissue
reducing the risks for older australians Help protect those most at risk of Coronavirus. • Limited access to aged care facilities apply. • Check in with elderly neighbours.
Together we can help stop the spread and stay healthy. Advice regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) will change regularly. Keep up to date. Visit health.gov.au
Bin the tissue
Wash your hands
Together we can help stop the spread and stay healthy. For more information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) visit health.gov.au Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra
WA’S BAPTIST NEWSPAPER
IN CONVERSATION Award-winning writer, Rhidian Brook talks about his Christian faith and how it impacts his writing and involvement in media. PAGE 12 >>
“Let us not be like the Pharaoh. May we cry out, ‘God, come! Come now and help me fix this thing.’” YVETTE CHERRY PAGE 13 >>
4 Life advice Baptistcare residents share words of wisdom through social media >>
8 Worry-free worship
Photo: Rhys Rogers
How Jesus takes the worry out of worship >>
Mandurah Baptist College’s capacity can increase by more than 200 students with the opening of its newly completed early learning centre.
New multi-million $ early learning centre opens The building of a new $4.2 million early learning centre at Mandurah Baptist College, stage one of the school’s master plan, was completed in February. The state-of-the-art early childhood education facility includes nine purpose-built classrooms with kitchens, storerooms and offices for staff. At its centre is an architecturally-designed nature playground with direct access from each classroom, providing outdoor and play-based learning opportunities for students. The genesis of the new centre at Mandurah Baptist College began in 2015 from a desire by College leaders and staff to improve the delivery of best practice in early childhood education.
A key driver for the school was the adoption in Western Australia of the Early Years Learning Framework and a requirement for all schools with early childhood students to meet the National Quality Standard (NQS) for early childhood education and care. Annual NQS audit processes over the following years consistently identified a need for the College to improve physical resources for the education and care of its early childhood students. This was included in the College board’s strategic plan and during 2018, a consultative
planning process began to build the new early learning centre. Primary School Principal, Rob Gratton said as wonderful as the new facilities were, Mandurah Baptist College was about more than just its physical resources. “Our College is about God’s purposes for the gospel and for people,” Rob said. “Without God, and a right focus on His mission for us and the people we serve, the new early learning centre is just a facility.” “Our calling as the staff of Mandurah Baptist College is through building relationships with our College community and authentically articulating the gospel, to develop life-ready students who reflect the character of Jesus Christ.”
Rob said facilities like the new centre, along with an excellent educational program, gave the school the platform to carry out its mission to students and families. The early learning centre will enable Mandurah Baptist College’s primary school to grow its capacity of 530 students to more than 700 from prekindergarten to Year 6. Rob said the growth represented a significance increase in the scope of influence for Jesus the College could have into surrounding communities. “The College board and staff are excited about the future possibilities God has for them and what the new centre’s facilities will enable them to achieve,” he said.
16 Church on the run Runner Church use running to share Christ with fellow runners >>
Generous hearts committed to building the Kingdom of God.
BAPTIST CHURCHES WESTERN AUSTRALIA
my view APRIL 2020
Toilet paper, fear and Easter As I write, one theme is dominating the news headlines – toilet paper supplies in our supermarkets are running low as a result of ‘panic buying’ by large numbers of the Australian population.
Rob Furlong Rob Furlong is the Senior Pastor at Woodvale Baptist Church.
Why is this? One reason suggested is the false belief that toilet paper can be used as a face mask to protect you from contracting the COVID-19. Now we are getting to the root cause of this erratic behaviour – fear – fear induced by the threat the COVID-19 outbreak represents. Fear is a spectre that lurks, seemingly hidden, at the back of our hearts but often drives unhealthy and irrational behaviours. Look carefully at the Genesis account and you will see that
fear drove Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They bought the lie that God was holding out on them and so they acted on this false belief, which in turn led to more fear! [Genesis 3:1-13] Every one of us has fears and left unchecked, they can cripple us. Fear that my marriage may end in divorce and I will be unable to cope. Fear that my past will always haunt me, that I can never be forgiven or find peace.
And perhaps the greatest fear of all – death – and what lies beyond the grave. The Bible, however, has much to say about fear. It has no place in the life of faith! Time and again, God speaks directly to our spectre of fear and His message is straightforward: “Do not be afraid!” This is nowhere more gloriously displayed than on the first Easter morning when the risen Jesus greets the griefstricken women at His tomb with the words, “Do not be afraid.” [Matthew 28:10].
The supposed ‘failure’ of Good Friday, and the fear it generated in Jesus’ followers, is swept away by these words and the presence of the living, resurrected Jesus. This is why the gospel is good news – because the death and resurrection of Jesus has dealt with our sin and death and all the fears associated with them. Are you fearful of something today? Then take courage from this – there are 366 commands to not be afraid in the Bible, one for every day of the year! This Easter, and beyond, allow the presence of the resurrected Jesus to dispel all your fears!
The story of Jesus is reason enough I’m part of a Facebook group of about 100 people who committed to reading through the whole Bible from 1 January to Good Friday. This is quite a challenge!
Karen Siggins Pastor Karen Siggins is the Lead Pastor at Lesmurdie Baptist Church and Chair of the Baptist Churches Western Australia Council.
We have to read a considerable chunk of chapters each day, which is quite costly timewise. It seems to me though, that there is another more significant cost when it comes to rapidly reading through the Old Testament in particular. It’s a mental and emotional cost. You see, it’s one thing to read some of the tough passages in isolation from time to time, and quite a different experience to read the stories of violence that can leave us gasping for breath – bang, bang, bang – one after the other. I have, at times, felt physically sick
and often times, heartsore and overwhelmed. I decided to keep on with the rapid reading project though. I decided to keep going by leaning into the things I am sure of. I am sure that God is love, and that Jesus came to restore all humankind and all creation to the good relationships we are designed for. I decided to keep on reading from the premise that the Bible is most definitely ‘adults only’ in parts and we need to be wise about how we read, teach and preach it to children and
grown‑ups. I reminded myself that often what I am reading must be handled with care, because it is a description of something that happened in a context I cannot recreate or imagine with any great accuracy, or with a prescription of the present day. I’ve kept reading because I believe the Bible is one of the significant ways God shows Himself to us. I keep reading and looking, with the Spirit’s help, to see what the stories reveal about God and His presence in human history and His plans for it.
I’ve kept reading and I hear again the forever story of God and His kind and persistent call for people to listen to Him, and to live His way because it will be best for us. I’ve kept reading and so I hear again the never changing story of God’s generous provision for those who are vulnerable and for those who call out to Him. I’ve kept reading and I hear the lifetransforming story of Jesus. It turns out that is reason enough to keep reading.
On ambition … Some people are subtle, others not. Jesus’ disciples James and John had a mother, Salome, who was in the ‘not’ category. She wanted her boys to succeed, and did a little behind the scenes work to make it possible.
Dr Brian Harris Dr Brian Harris is the Principal of Vose Seminary and Pastor at Large for the Carey Group.
While we don’t know too much about Salome, by piecing various snippets from the Gospels together it seems she might have been Mary’s sister – in other words, Jesus’ aunt. Nothing like being an aunt to entitle you to apply a little pressure to your nephew. You catch a picture of how she worked in Matthew 20. In verse 17, Jesus announces that he is about to be killed. You would have thought that would lead to a collective gasp and cries of shock and horror. Salome, however, views it differently. Her logic
says if Jesus is about to die, His coming Kingdom can’t be far off, so now is the time to strike if she wants her boys to have the best seating in that Kingdom. She instructs her sons to follow, and dashes off to Jesus. Her approach seems humble enough. She kneels before nephew Jesus [v20] and asks a favour. She would rather like it if in the coming Kingdom her one son could sit at Jesus’ right hand, and the other on His left [v21]. In terms of the culture, that meant that while Jesus would be number one, her boys would fill
the number two and three slot. Not a word of sympathy about what Jesus was about to suffer, just a naked grasp at what her family could get from it. It is pretty repulsive, but Jesus is not offended. More bemused. He asks the probing question – are you willing to suffer, as I am going to suffer? This time the boys answer. Clearly they weren’t cringing at their mother’s forwardness, but were willing accomplices. “We can”, they answer [v22]. Jesus turns the conversation in another direction. If you want
to be first, be the servant of all [v26]. Ambition – most of us want to be noticed and to lead lives that matter. But what if that means servanthood? Salome, James and John do not come out of this encounter looking good. But here’s the thing. They did indeed eventually suffer greatly for following Jesus – James by martyrdom, John by imprisonment, Salome by being their mother. Where you start, isn’t always where you end.
Giving a voice to the vulnerable In the lead-up to Good Friday, Christians across Australia challenged themselves to 40 hours of silence over 40 days to help vulnerable families living in poverty. And taking part in the Give My Voice Challenge certainly helped me to sit before God, wait on Him, and to count my many blessings.” Participants will use their sacrifice to raise funds for the important work of Baptist World Aid by asking friends and family to sponsor their efforts. “As Christians, we know we need to respond to God’s heart for people living in poverty,” Kathy said. “But sometimes this can just feel really hard, because we don’t know the best way to respond.” Baptist World Aid aims to create moments, like the Give My Voice Challenge, to provide simple and effective ways for people to partner with God and love families living in poverty. “The Give My Voice Challenge served to raise funds for work which is bringing real change to
The End Poverty app is available to download free from the App Store and Google Play.
Photo: Baptist World Aid Australia
The Give My Voice Challenge, a new fundraising initiative by Baptist World Aid which began on 2 March, asked participants to sacrifice their own voice to create space to hear the voices of others. Over the course of 40 days, participants complete daily actions to strengthen their habits of listening and silence, choosing to be silent for one hour a day or up to 40 hours straight. Baptist World Aid Church Relationship Manager for Western Australia, Kathy Sinclair said each person was of enormous value and created in the image of the living God. “For this reason, every person alive should be afforded dignity,” Kathy said. “One of the ways we can do this is to hear their voices.” “The Bible speaks of silence as being a way to wait on the Lord.
communities who are living in grinding poverty,” Kathy said. “This is work which restores dignity and brings hope to whole communities who are empowered to future self-sufficiency.” “It is not acceptable for people to be living in extreme poverty. Intentionally setting aside time to hear their stories is an important first step in bringing about change.” Although the challenge is officially finishing soon, it is still possible to complete the 40 daily actions through the End Poverty app.
Author – Samara Linehan
Baptist World Aid’s Give My Voice Challenge gave participants a chance to pause, listen to the voices of others, and realign their hearts with God’s.
Chaplain’s service celebrated Vose Seminary celebrated a season well-served as Chaplain Chris Ellery concluded ministering to students and staff after a decade of service. Vose Head of Biblical Studies, Dr David Cohen said Chris had been a valued member of the Vose community over many years. “Chris began as a mature-age student and after graduating, decided to offer his services as a chaplain to students and staff at the seminary,” David said.
“Each week of semester, and even outside these times, Chris was available for a chat, a coffee and some friendly advice.” David said countless stories were shared at Chris’ farewell of his availability and willingness to show grace and love to all at various times. “Although he will be sorely missed, we are enormously grateful for Chris’ selfless service and thankful to God for gifting us with such a person, perfectly suited to the role,” he said. “We will miss the chats and deliveries of various cakes and pastries each week, but the memories will linger.”
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Photo: Vose Seminary
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Chaplain Chris Ellery has concluded ministering students and staff at Vose Seminary after ten years’ service.
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news APRIL 2020
Albany Baptist Church has answered the call ‘to be love’ to those in its community suffering from domestic and family violence-related issues. The church’s leadership team set about educating themselves to be in a good position to support those seeking refuge by establishing a domestic and family violence response team led by Glenda Bock. The team, consisting of counsellors, a lawyer, a nurse, women’s ministry leaders and volunteers, spent 18 months conducting research and training. Glenda and Senior Pastor Phil Beeck also undertook a two-day training course with Lifeline. The call began back in 2018, after a series of whole-church gatherings were held to pray and ask God what He would like the
community to focus on for the next five to ten years. Phil said the church wanted at least one of the goals to be focused on a community need where the church could “get our hands dirty” trying to help in the name of Jesus. “Domestic violence came up as a reoccurring theme in many of the small group brainstorms where we thought God would have us serve,” Phil said. The church participated in an advocacy campaign with A Just Cause, established by Australian Baptist Ministries in 2014, which connected them with several local groups working in the field of domestic violence.
Phil said while incidents of family and domestic violence were high in Australia, the Great Southern region had a particularly high rate of domestic violence. “In our community, we discovered the resources available to victims seemed woefully inadequate to meet the needs,” he said. “Although there were a number of organisations trying to help, they were under-supported.” Along with establishing the response team, the church has also set aside time in its preaching calendar to look at godly relationships with a specific emphasis on domestic violence. Phil said the Scriptures were very clear about God’s love for the widow, orphan and outsider. “Often the prophets used this as a guide to how well Israel had done in loving God and loving
Photo: Sturt Jasher Photography
Taking a stand on domestic violence
Glenda Bock is leading a domestic and family violence response team to help assist those suffering in the community.
people – how well they cared for the most vulnerable,” he said. “Jesus lives this out showing compassion to all, but most specifically, the outsider and vulnerable; women, lepers, sinners, prostitutes. He calls His disciples to do the same.” Phil humbly admits he feels unequipped for the great
need, but he and his team are committed to learning. The church has also committed financial resources and they are poised to make a great difference in the city they have been called to love and serve. Author – Yvette Cherry
Likes for residents’ life advice
Baptistcare residents enjoyed sharing words of wisdom through social media, prompting many comments on Facebook.
When Baptistcare Lifestyle Coordinator, Kim Jordan overheard some senior residents giving valuable life advice to a 19-year-old therapy assistant, she knew instantly their wisdom deserved a wider audience.
Inspired by a life lessons campaign run by the St Clair Nursing Centre – 17,500km away in Missouri, USA, Kim decided the best way to spread the Baptistcare residents’ wise words was through social media. Kim asked residents for their key piece of advice for the millennials and Gen Z youth of today. Photographs of each resident holding a piece of paper with their name, age and
life advice were uploaded to Facebook, where people of all ages began commenting on the seniors’ wisdom. Kim was delighted to see the initiative having an impact and believes we can all learn something from listening to what the older generation has to say. “One of the many privileges of working in aged care is that you get to hear the incredible life stories of the residents and benefit from their years of wisdom,” she said.
“Just because physically they may no longer be as capable, they have years of experience and great perspective about what matters most in life.” Advice from the residents included the following: “Rise above it.” Sheila (92) “Always be truthful and honest.” Maggie (72) “Work to your ability and do your best.” Joyce (96) “Be graceful towards others.” Ray (97)
“Live one day at a time.” Betty (85) “Help when help is needed.” Bernard (89) “Teach your boys to cook.” Mary (80) For more wise words from Baptistcare residents, visit facebook.com/BaptistcareWA Author – Alice Hennessy
Midwife on honours list Sara, a midwife, is the founder and CEO of Living Child, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2013 to provide midwifery education and support to birth attendants in remote villages of Papua New Guinea. In 2011, she was invited to the village of Yamen by church leaders who were concerned about the high maternal death rate in their villages due to a lack of health services. Their request was for a midwife to train their village birth attendants to help save lives. In an interview with the Melville Times, Sara said among the challenges of working in the remote villages was having no power and running water, and the extreme weather conditions. “It is incredibly challenging; the longest I’ve ever stayed out in the remote area was 12 days and it nearly killed me,” she said. She shared feedback from the communities that since the training had been provided, there had been no maternal deaths along with fewer infections in mothers and babies.
In a 2018 report, aid agency ChildFund Australia found Papua New Guinea was one of the most dangerous places in the world for pregnant women. Despite being located just 160km from the northern border of mainland Australia, women in Papua New Guinea were more than 35 times more likely to die during pregnancy than a pregnant woman in Australia. ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said no woman should die giving life. “Nor should any woman see the child she has carried for nine months pass away because she could not get the help she needed while giving birth,” Nigel said. “Women who give birth at home without a skilled birth attendant present do so in dangerous conditions, using unsanitary equipment.” “As a result, women are vulnerable to the common causes of maternal deaths: severe bleeding, infections, eclampsia and complications during delivery.”
Photo: Living Child
Sara David, a former member of Riverton Baptist Community Church, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to international humanitarian health programs in the Australia Day 2020 Honours List.
Birth attendants in Papua New Guinea undertaking training provided by Living Child.
When asked how her faith comes into play with her ministry, Sara shared: “I would not be doing this type of work if it were not for a deep sense of calling from God, and a trust that He goes before me.” “The challenges are insurmountable and yet time and again I see tangible evidence of
the Lord working in and through the ministry of Living Child. He does this by bringing the right people across my path at the right time for important conversations or meetings to help open the doors for us to bring services to the remote villages.” “Many times, I’ve been overwhelmed with the provision
of the Lord, whether it’s people or funds. It’s always at the right time – His perfect time.” For more information, visit livingchildinc.org.au Author – Matthew Chapman
Kids Hope a winning formula
However, Grant is excited for the church to be involved in what he thinks is even better – a win-winwin-win ministry. Six years ago, the church actively sought to grow its community connections by entering into a ministry called Kids Hope. Kids Hope helps churches partner with local schools through mentoring relationships. “There are a number of different mentoring programs, but Kids Hope seems to have brilliantly cracked a code that delivers remarkable results,” Grant said. The code is simple. A church links with a primary school to provide mentors that meet with a student for just an hour a week – ideally following the same student right throughout their schooling. “The result of that one hour a week commitment by mentors is astounding, much greater than one would think possible,” he said.
North Beach Baptist Kids Hope Coordinator, Chris Ellery excitedly recounts how the school has steadily grown in enthusiasm over the past six years. Chris said even teachers that were apprehensive about a church being involved with their school, who would never set foot in a church themselves, were now quick to talk about North Beach Baptist being ‘their church’. “The school continually asks for more mentors because of the positive impact it consistently has on kids that have faced many more challenges in their lives than any kid ever should,” Chris said. Grant interviewed Chris and Hayley*, a mum of two long-term foster children who have mentors, during a recent church service. As Grant, Chris and Hayley shared the stage, many struggled to keep dry eyes as Hayley recounted how her girls were so deeply and positively impacted by their mentors.
Photo: North Beach Baptist Church
North Beach Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Grant Hendry believes life is full of trade-offs and that win-win situations are often elusive.
Senior Pastor of North Beach Baptist Church, Grant Hendry interviewing Chris Ellery and Hayley* about the impact Kids Hope has had on her two foster children.
“They always look forward to their time with their mentor, but last week something happened with one of my daughters that had more positive impact than her mentor could possibly have known,” Hayley said. “My daughter just opened up to her and dumped the deep traumas of her life. All the mentor did was listen and love, but it made the world of difference to my daughter and to me as well, because I had
reached the very bottom of my emotional reserves.” Hayley also spoke about her other daughter who became ill at school on the day her mentor was due to come in. She fought unbelievably hard with the school to not send her home, because she did not want to miss meeting with her mentor. Chris shared with the congregation that stories like these were heard every week. He said the school community
had been blessed, the church had been blessed, mentors had been deeply blessed and most importantly, children were continually given love, hope and security. Four wins. North Beach Baptist is now one of the largest Kids Hope churches in Australia with eight new mentors about to undertake training. * Name has been changed for privacy reasons.
news APRIL 2020
Launch takes partnerships to next level
The day began with four songs of worship led by a new youth band at its first public ministry. Worship was followed by a time of unpacking the 2020 theme, ‘We are in Christ’ and praying for the focus areas of the year – ‘We Are Loved’, ‘We Are United’, ‘We Are Unique’ and ‘We Are Light’ in Christ. This year’s theme was discerned by leaders of Baptist organisations Global Interaction and Baptist World Aid Australia, camping centres, cross cultural ministry, events and Baptist Women after meeting with the Baptist Churches Western Australia Next Generations team to seek God in prayer and understand the current times. Next Generations Pastor Ed Devine said leaders felt the biggest issue facing the next generation was identity.
Photo: Jess Ford
On Wednesday 29 January, more than 50 Baptist children’s, youth and young adult pastors and leaders gathered at South Perth Baptist Church to launch into a new year together.
Youth and young adult pastors at the Next Generations launch day contemplate the big issues facing the next generation.
“We wanted to speak into those areas of young people lives that are being challenged everyday by the culture,” Ed said. “Having our life’s foundation built on God’s love, delighting in unity with other believers, celebrating our unique life as God’s people and not being ashamed to shine God’s light to the world all hinge on our identity being rooted in Christ.”
At the launch, the organisations were joined by Vose Seminary, Baptist Financial Services and Baptist Insurance Services to hold sessions showcasing the resources and support available to Baptist churches. Pastors were able to ask questions across a spectrum of topics and receive the answers and support they needed. “Each organisation provides events, resources and support
in their field, so it makes sense to partner closely with them and make space in the next generation’s calendar to tap into the wealth of opportunity and expertise available,” Ed said. An example is Global Interaction’s i68 initiative for young adults, which facilitates the pathway for the group working towards futures as missionaries. Baptist Camps Director, Peter Vermeulen said the
thing that stood out the most about the launch day was being able to rub shoulders with people heading the same direction and experiencing the same situations. The 2021 launch date is set for Wednesday 27 January and all Next Generations pastors and their teams are invited to attend.
Camp experience re-envisioned For seven decades, Baptist ministry camps have been a valued ministry connecting young people through Western Australia’s Baptist churches, with many establishing a faith in Jesus. 19 different churches and organisations, with six youth deciding to follow Jesus for the first time and 98 youth indicating they wanted to renew their relationship with Jesus. In the 2020 July school holidays, two camps will be held catering for children in Years 4 to 6 and youth in Years 7 to 12. The camps will promote discipleship, mission and relationship that can be built on by pastors and leaders as they continue ministry with camp attendees at their local church. “The family of Baptist Churches Western Australia has always believed we are ‘stronger when we work together’ and we are excited to continue growing and equipping local Baptist ministries to help young people say ‘yes’ to Jesus through camps,” Peter said.
Photo: Peter Vermeulen
Over the past year, Baptist Ministry Camps Director Peter Vermeulen has been working with children and youth pastors at local Baptist churches to reenvision these camps and to sharpen their effectiveness for participating churches. “Our hope is that through a camping experience, local churches are built up,” Peter said. “Churches working together can create a fantastic camping experience for children and youth, whilst offering leadership opportunities to emerging leaders and releasing pastors to spend time with their people.” During this time of re-evaluation, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Youth Pastor Michael Yoo and his team took responsibility for running their January 2020 summer youth camp with the new vision as a guide. One hundred and thirtyone campers attended from
One hundred and thirty-one campers from 19 different churches and organisations attended the January 2020 summer youth camps.
Struggling teens, women and couples can now access Pregnancy Problem House’s free services from their new premises in Balcatta. Located at 235 Wanneroo Road, the property is just two kilometres south of the centre’s former Nollamara site. In the past five years, Pregnancy Problem House has moved its Geraldton centre to a custom-fitted space, established and renovated new centres in Langford and Kalgoorlie, and opened a warehouse in Cockburn for sorting and storing donated baby goods. Pregnancy Problem House Executive Director, Michelle Macormic said as the organisation grew, the Nollamara premises began to serve two purposes. “We were helping hundreds of people each year from the ‘little pink house’, while our administration staff worked to support all our centres from a demountable in the backyard. Shared parking, limited meeting rooms and a single toilet became big issues,” Michelle said. “Though we greatly value the faith of our founders to
purchase the property nearly 25 years ago, we joyfully realised we had outgrown it and searched for an alternative.” Michelle said for a charity funded entirely by donations, Pregnancy Problem House had been encouraged by its generous partners and unexpected blessings throughout the project. “Our financing is through Baptist Financial Services and we were amazed when a generous donor committed to pay the interest on the Balcatta loan for at least the first seven years,” she said. “Additionally, we sold the old premises to a new chiropractic business who have been very helpful in ensuring that no clients were confused during the move.” “Settlement was in early February and we began seeing clients at the new site within days of receiving the keys.” “Now that we’re in the new building, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. It features a unique layout that preserves client privacy and has a calm and comfortable atmosphere.” “We are also grateful for the improved facilities for our administrative team – it’s a thrilling new season and we
Photo: Pregnancy Problem House
Pregnancy Problem House move
Pregnancy Problem House board and staff members, including Dwight Randall, Alta Crous, Lizelle Snyman, Deidre Pretorius, Noelene De Boer, Michelle Macormic and Lance Macormic, outside its new premises in Balcatta.
believe our outreach is going to continue to flourish.” Pregnancy Problem House aims to provide free, compassionate, life-affirming care to anyone distressed or
disadvantaged due to untimely or unsupported pregnancy. Services are provided by a team of skilled volunteers and include face-to-face and telephone counselling, case management,
Photo: Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
The fundraising efforts of Australind Baptist Church paid off when the church opened the doors of its new building on Sunday 2 February.
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Executive Pastor, Simon Ford, with the new app helping to connect the church community.
“There has been a huge takeup of the app in the church and those that use it have said they love it,” Simon said. “The app is available on phones for both Apple and Android devices and has been a significant strategic addition to our communication toolkit.”
While Simon provided the direction for the app, the hard work around its development was undertaken by the church’s Communications Producer, Matthew Storms.
For more information, visit pregnancyproblemhouse.com
Australind opens doors to new building
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church has developed a new free app for its church community. Launched in December, the app provides users with news on church happenings and has the ability to browse upcoming events, listen to sermon podcasts and give electronically to general offerings or specific purpose giving. It also links to the church’s website, video material, Facebook, The Hub, Connect Groups or read Scripture online. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Executive Pastor, Simon Ford said the church was excited to launch the mobile app to enhance communication across the church and help connect the church community more deeply into the life of the church. One of the most popular features has been the ability to access the sermon slides each week and congregation members can take notes on the slides during the service. The app also allows the church office to send out push notifications to the congregation when required.
individual and group mentoring, material resources and community advocacy.
The church started with 24 members in 1994 and has since grown, housed in six locations over the past 25 years. This year marks the completion of a three-year renovation of the church building, fully funded by members of the church. With some of the founding members still part of the congregation, Church Administrator Nyssa Millington said the project had been a long time in the making. “We were absolutely thrilled to see this renovation project come to life,” Nyssa said. “Ministers from local churches in the Bunbury region and the Baptist Churches Western Australia Director of
Ministries, Mark Wilson joined us on the day to celebrate the occasion, as well as Shire of Harvey President Paul Gillett.” “It was great to be invited along to the service and I look forward to seeing how the programs can have a positive impact on our community,” Councillor Gillett said. Pastor Richard Foster delivered a message of hope for anyone on a journey, to not give up, but to keep pressing on and to seek help when needed. “It is important to make sure your road is taking you to the right destination,” Richard said. “The church exists to help and serve the community and to tell everyone the good news about having a relationship with God.” Australind Baptist Church is heavily involved with the community through mentoring in schools, community carols, playgroup, CAP Money Courses and youth programs.
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I’ve taken the opportunity during our extended, and gloriously sunny, beachside holiday to plough through the Pentateuch.
Jesus takes the out of worship
Genesis was a riveting read, as was most of Exodus. Then we get a bit bogged down. Lots and lots of worship ordinands. And don’t let me catch you boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk. The command not to is in Exodus twice, and Deuteronomy once. Okay we get it! By that stage I’m ready to grab the kayak and go lie on the beach for a while. Theories abound surrounding that particular prohibition, ranging from the ‘ickiness’ of doing that to a baby goat, to the speculation that such a practice was a pagan one grounded in a fertility cult. Still, nothing better than sitting on a verandah overlooking a crystal clear ocean and ticking off the list of meals you are definitely not going to eat while on holidays, if ever. But it’s striking how complicated the worship requirements are. I mean, who even knew there was a long lobe on the liver that was supposed to be burned during a variety of offerings? And what’s that about not putting honey on the altar? And never mind leavened bread, you can’t even replicate the perfume mix used on the altar of incense for your own personal use. You risk being cut off from God and His people. It’s readings like that – and large, extended, convoluted readings like that – that put Christian people off reading the Torah. And perhaps it confirms what some, such as gleeful atheist Peter FitzSimons, call the “gibberish” nature of the Bible. And if not “gibberish”, definitely giblet-ish, given how many entrails get hauled off to different places. But to dismiss it as such is to miss the central point of where the Bible is headed. And as we read these passages in light of the cross of Jesus, and in light of Jesus’ own assertion that the Law and the prophets were both
fulfilled by him, and completed in him, here’s what we must conclude: Jesus takes the worry out of worship. Why is worship a worry? Well, it’s not hard to see as you read the Pentateuch that if the Holy God of Israel is to dwell in the midst of His people, then somehow there’s going to have to be a complicated process by which they don’t get toasted. They are, after all, not holy as He is holy, despite the command in Leviticus to be so. They can’t just approach God casually, and the worship system has all sorts of checks and balances. It makes the security systems that Tom Cruise hacks in most of his movies, look like cheap bicycle locks. The worship system is not designed to keep God safe and clean from those grubby people, but to keep those grubby people safe from the God of whom a very glimpse would make you melt like the Nazi bloke in Indiana Jones who opens the ark of the covenant. Eyeballs dropping all over the place. There would be a certain nervousness to the priests. Have I got this right? Did we do this the right way? Did I burn the bits I was supposed to? Did I carry outside the camp those bits I was commanded to? And what if I have sinned unintentionally and don’t know it? Everything is a carefully calibrated set of checks and balances. But of course, God being just a bit more like us than not, He’ll overlook the odd slip up, right? Wrong. This is what we read when, after a long and exhaustive list of what the priests cannot do, and what they should do, two of Aaron’s sons get it wrong in Leviticus 10:1-3: Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire
came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” Whoops. Seems like God is pretty strict about this sort of stuff. There’s a lot of worry when it comes to the worship of the God of Israel. We start to realise that He sets the boundaries for how He is to be approached. The common reframe in this worship package set-up is that ‘Moses did all that the Lord had commanded.’ It’s said again and again and again. There’s no occasion where God asks: ‘Well Moses, what do you think? How should the people approach me? After all it’s a much more modern age than when you were back in Egypt.’ There’s no leeway. No wiggle room. No ifs. No buts. There’s a lot of worry in worship when you are permitted to worship the true and living God, and have Him dwell in your midst like Israel did. Get it right? Blessing! Get it wrong? Toast! Which makes the worship package of the New Testament all the more breathtaking. And what we find is that the worship package of the New Testament is not a set of rituals and complex sacrifices, but a person. Jesus is our worship package. The whole kit and caboodle. And as such Jesus takes the worry out of worship. It’s striking that in the book of Hebrews, the writer tells us that there is no time to go into the details of the Jewish worship rites that the writer claims have been fulfilled completely by Jesus. In fact, the writer airily waves their hand and says: “But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.” [Hebrews 9:5b]
That’s a huge shift. We can’t discuss these things in detail right now? Why ever not? Look what happened when we got it wrong in the past! But that’s the point. The Hebrews writer is saying that with the coming of Jesus, every part of the worship package has been completed in absolute perfection by a priest who never had to offer a sacrifice for His own sins, and who will never be succeeded in His role because He will never die. We approach ‘the throne of grace in time of need’ with no fear, and with all confidence. It is not our obedient form of worship that gives us this sweet access, it is Jesus’ obedient form of worship on our behalf, one that included a completely obedient life. I reckon we often don’t get this. And I certainly know that in church we can create all sorts of ways for ourselves of not getting this. And that in turn creates an insecurity within us, that somehow our correct worship is the manner in which we access God’s presence. So I’ve seen a flyer for a worship conference that stated confidently: “Our worship is our access to the very throne room of God.” This is not theologically correct. It is Jesus’ worship that is our access to the very throne room of God. This is not salvifically correct. If all it takes for us to access God’s throne room directly is the way that we offer our worship, then our sin must not be so bad. Our worship must be capable of atoning for it to the level that God grants us access without any other requirement. It is also not pastorally helpful. Why? Because it keeps us on edge all of the time. It means we can oscillate between fear and pride. Perhaps our personal worship that day, or our corporate worship one Sunday, was absolutely top drawer. The band was amazing, the
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worry singers took us into a place of emotion we had never been before. We felt like we accessed God’s throne room. All well and good. But what if we felt awful? What if the music sucked? What if we were distracted or angry or just plain tired? Has our access to God’s throne room been jeopardised? Absolutely not. The point of the worship package in the Old Testament Pentateuch is that it points forward to the complete worship package of the Lord Jesus, who is better than Moses, and is, as Hebrews indicates, ‘the owner of the house’ that is being built. So let’s do what Hebrews tells us to do, and ‘approach the throne of grace in time of need’, not because our worship is good enough for God, but because Jesus’ worship was, is, and will always be, good enough for God. He’s the same consuming fire (Hebrews tells us as much). Still the same holy God who calls us to be holy (Hebrews again!). But with one, HUGE difference: Jesus takes the worry out of worship. Author – Stephen McAlpine Steve McAlpine is on the leadership team of Providence Church in WA and is working for the new national venture Third Space (thirdspace.org.au), helping churches and organisations find space for people to have conversations about Jesus. He is married to Jill and together they have two children, Sophie and Declan. This article was originally published on stephenmcalpine.com and is republished with his kind permission.
10 world news APRIL 2020
BWA appoints new director above all, a humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.” A Baptist leader who has served in numerous ministry positions at local, national and international level, Rev. Jackson comes to the BWA from the Calvary Baptist Church of Montego Bay, Jamaica, where he has led the congregation as Senior Pastor since 2005. “My primary ministry passion is for the holistic transformation of God’s people in God’s world through the liberating power of God’s Word,” Rev. Jackson said. “This passion is inspired by my personal experience of the saving grace of the gospel of Christ, which has led to a deep love for others to have a similar experience.” “It is my conviction that the gospel of Christ, properly understood, is sufficient through the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives, perspectives and socio-economic conditions.” “I am excited about joining the BWA team not only to help in consolidating the
International Briefs Portugal moves towards legalisation of euthanasia Parliamentarians in Portugal have cleared the way for the legalisation of euthanasia despite protests. Proposals in five bills received the backing of a majority of MPs and will now be compiled into a single bill. The president has the power of veto, but the bill is expected to pass. The bills passed set the minimum age for euthanasia at 18 and restrict it to cases where patients are terminally ill and suffering unbearable pain, not a mental illness, Reuters reported. Protests were held outside the Portuguese parliaments as lawmakers voted on the legislation.
Zacharias is in severe pain following spinal surgery The wife of apologist and academic, Ravi Zacharias has said her husband is experiencing significant pain after undergoing surgery on his spine. Ravi underwent surgery in February to fix two loose screws and repair a fractured sacrum.
“Ravi is progressing in his healing, but at a much slower pace than he had expected based on his past experience,” wife Margie wrote in an Instagram update. “Thank you again for your love and caring for Ravi and our family,” she wrote. “Your prayers and encouragement mean the world to us.”
Christian music star confirms she has COVID-19 Five-time Grammy Awardwinning Christian singer Sandi Patty has confirmed that she has COVID-19 after taking to social media to share the news. Sandi posed to her Instagram account, “This is not fake news. If you are not already practicing social distancing and staying home, do so now! This is what we can all do. This is how we stop the spread. God has given us faith, but He’s also given us wisdom. He has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and of a sound mind. I will keep you posted as I can. (Oh! And cough in your elbow, not your hand.)”
Photo: Baptist World Alliance
In the new executive level position, Rev. Jackson will focus on the alliance’s core ministry area of evangelism and mission while providing administrative oversight and leadership in the areas of religious freedom, human rights and justice, as well as theological reflection and transformational leadership. As director, Rev. Jackson will work in close collaboration with BWA General Secretary, Reverend Dr Elijah Brown to develop and implement an overarching strategy for BWA engagement in evangelism and mission around the world. He begins his new role on 1 July. BWA President, Reverend Paul Msiza congratulated and welcomed Rev. Jackson into the BWA staff in his new role as Director of Integral Mission. “Everton is bringing with him a great wealth of knowledge and experience from serving in both the Jamaica Baptist Union and the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship,” Rev. Msiza said. “Everton is a pastor at heart, an evangelist, a missiologist and
growth experienced over the past ten years in Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean and Latin America but to assist in reversing the decline in other regions through creative, innovative and non-traditional evangelistic approaches.” “I am excited about partnering with the six regions in responding to practical challenges, driven by our conviction to love our neighbour.” Rev. Jackson’s appointment follows a search with a diverse pool of 41 applicants, which included a mixture of men and women as well as a combination of emerging and seasoned leaders with all six BWA regions represented. “Rev. Jackson brings vast experience to this role, and I am honoured and excited to have him join our BWA team to focus on this vital area of our global ministry,” Rev. Dr Brown said. Author – Merritt Johnston
Reverend Everton Jackson is looking to find creative, innovative and non-traditional evangelistic approaches as the new Director of Integral Mission at Baptist World Alliance.
Dog saves pastor’s family For the first time in his life, Darrin Crockett is glad God did not answer his prayer. On 2 March, Crockett and his family went to bed as always. Their dog Doc, however, barked incessantly throughout the night. Crockett remembers asking God, ‘to make that dog quit barking’. God apparently chose not to answer that prayer. As a result, the Crockett family is alive and well after a tornado blasted through their home in Tennessee, leaving them trapped under a pile of rubble. Reflecting on that night, Crockett sees how God orchestrated their survival. Had Doc not barked most of the night, Crockett may not have heard his phone alarm signalling a storm warning. As a result of the warning, he, his wife Jenny and daughters Carly, Camryn and Carrigan took refuge in the laundry. “We heard it coming and suddenly the house began to shake,” he said. “Next thing I remember is I felt grass underneath me. The tornado must have picked up the entire house, dropped
Photo: Rob Hart
Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has appointed Reverend Everton Jackson as Director of Integral Mission following an extensive global search.
The damage from a violent tornado that impacted Putnam County, Tennessee, during the pre-dawn hours of 3 March 2020.
it in the yard with us buried underneath it.” When the storm passed, lightning flashes exposed what few openings there were, and the family crawled out from the collapsed building with only a few minor cuts and scratches. Crockett, Associate Pastor of VineBranch Community Church, acknowledged that their survival is a miracle. “It is amazing. If our dog had not alerted us, who knows where we would have ended up?”
Though they have each other, the family’s beloved dog Doc, who probably saved their lives with his barking, did not survive. “He will go down as a hero,” Crockett said. Author – Lonnie Wilkey Republished with kind permission from baptistpress.com
world news 11 APRIL 2020
Pastors around the world have to react in some way, shape or form to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some took the opportunity to talk to their church about faith and fear, others brought in medical professionals as guest speakers, and some went the humourous path and made light of the difficult situation. On 6 March, Billy Graham Centre Executive Director, Ed Stetzer tweeted: “If you are a pastor or church leader, what are you saying/doing regarding coronavirus this weekend during worship? Have you sent out any emails? How are you encouraging your church? Etc.” More than 100 pastors and ministry workers from the United States and around the world replied, giving insight into their church’s individual response to the global outbreak. Some talked to their congregation about hygiene practices, deep cleaning of church buildings, hand sanitisers and elbow sneezes. Some invited medical professionals as guest speakers into the church to inform the congregation about the virus. Churches in proximity to virus epicentres reported that they made the decision
to cancel congregational gatherings and relied on live streaming services instead. There were others who underlined the importance of congregational meetings, especially during times of fear and crisis, while asking people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to stay home. Pastor Aaron Monts shared his thoughts with his congregation at United Church in Seattle. “When fear and uncertainty rule the day, let us gather together to encourage one another, to love one another, to care for one another,” he said. “Sundays are ... the space in which we all gather together at once to declare that we are a people who are centred around hope, possibility, and new life.” “... this is why we gather, and in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, why we will continue to gather. However, we don’t want to be foolish about it either!” In times of ever-present news updates on disease and death toll numbers, there were also those who reminded their congregation not to fear and to trust in God. Pastor Jonathan Dodson, of City Life Church in Austin, Texas, encouraged his congregation to mourn and pray for the affected and those who lost loved ones, but not to be crippled by anxiety and fear. “We live in a fallen world where suffering and death are inevitable. To live as if this is not true is foolish. The wise and
Photo: Shutterstock/Linda Bestwick
Fear, faith and elbow bumps
Over 100 pastors and ministry workers from around the world gave insight into their church’s individual responses to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
righteous person, however, need not fear bad news,” he said. “It is one thing to pay attention to bad news, to mourn tragic events, and it is another to live in anxious fear of what could happen.” “Psalm 112 shows us it is possible to look bad news in the face and say, ‘You will not rule my heart.’” “Suffering or the prospect of suffering has a way of revealing where we actually place our trust: good health, financial security, happy marriage, and so on. But
when those things are threatened, the cracks begin to appear in our unreliable foundation.” “However, the more we look into the character of God, the more deeply convinced we can be that He is good and works good through bad. That is unshakable.” There were also those who approached the difficult situation with a healthy dose of humour. Some demonstrated alternative handshakes like fist or elbow bumps, waves and the ‘Wuhan shake’ (a brief foot tapping greeting) on stage.
Bible app reaches millions
Author – Ramona Humphreys The content of this article was current at the time of production.
To find your local Baptist church visit
The founders of the YouVersion Bible app celebrated 50 million new installs and 35.6 billion Bible chapters read in 2019.
Photo: Jordan Wiseman
Users worldwide completed 1.1 billion days in devotional Bible plans, shared 478 million Bible verses with their friends and donated one million US dollars to fund Bible translations in 2019. Around the world, the Bible verse most shared, highlighted and bookmarked last year was Philippians 4:6 (NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” YouVersion Founder Bobby Gruenewald said he was encouraged to see so many people turn to the Bible in 2019. The YouVersion bible app is installed on 400 million unique devices
Author – Ramona Humphreys
Pastor Stephen Budd of Kanata Baptist Church in Ottawa, Ontario, wrote: “We are asking folks to welcome with a wave or some other non-physical way.” To which another Twitter user replied: “Touch free church? Man, if you advertise it, you’ll attract a wave of introverts!”
worldwide, giving millions of Christians convenient access to God’s Word.
12 in conversation APRIL 2020
The world as Rhidian sees it
How did you become interested in writing and what led you to develop it into a career? When I was 14 my English teacher asked the class to write a short story. It was a joy to be able to do this and rare. I wrote a story about a man and his hunting dog. When my teacher handed my story back to me, he accused me of plagiarising it from Jack London. I hadn’t yet read Jack London but although I smarted at being falsely accused, I took it as a compliment and encouragement! At university, I dabbled with writing travelogue, sketches and poems but had no specific ambition to write. My girlfriend (and future wife) Nicola was the first person to tell me I should write. After university I drifted from job to job before landing on copywriting at an advertising agency. I enjoyed it. I was working with words and ideas and there was a buzz to that industry. I was also surrounded by talented ‘creatives’, people who could write and draw. A number of copywriters had a novel on the go and talked of giving up advertising to become a ‘real writer’. When I was 27 my life changed dramatically when I became ill with a post viral condition. I couldn’t work for nearly two years. During that time I came to faith, which was key to me becoming a writer. Although I was ill, I had a clear sense that life had meaning, allied to an urgent desire to write about it. I read a lot, including those big Russian novels and I started writing what became my first novel, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones. I also wrote some short stories and after winning a competition with one, I began to take this idea of being a ‘real writer’ more seriously. It took me a couple more years (and books) to be able to ‘give up the day job’, but by the beginning of this century I was a full-time, professional writer. How did you become a Christian and develop a faith in Christ? I could write a book trying to answer this question accurately. The short answer is I came to faith in Christ dramatically when I was 27. Seen with distance I could describe my conversion as pre-ordained, inevitable. But at the time it didn’t seem that way. It felt messy and chaotic, and
slightly frightening. I grew up in a nominally Christian household and was educated in a culturally Christian world, but I didn’t really believe the story of a God incarnate in Jesus. Actually, I wasn’t really thoughtful enough to question its veracity. I was just lazily agnostic about it. Then, in my mid- 20s, I had a crisis. My relationship was in trouble, but it became clear that my issues went deeper than finding the right person. ‘Who should I be with?’ became ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ This existential panic peaked when I was travelling alone in the Caribbean. I had taken the Bible that Nicola had given me for my 21st – more for luck than anything. As I read the gospels of John and Mark, I was astonished. I knew these stories (via a vague cultural osmosis), but when I read them on that trip, I found them speaking directly to me – particularly about my growing existential panic and fear of death. I felt almost cheated. Why had noone told me about this? Days later I had a bad experience after smoking something too strong. I thought I was dying. My fellow travellers took me to hospital, and I woke in my guest house the next day with Horace, the owner, sitting by bedside checking I was okay. He saw the Bible and asked if I was a Christian. I said no. He offered to pray for me, and I said sure, thinking he’d go away and pray for me in church or something. But no, he laid a hand on me and said a prayer of such beautiful simple power. I felt a peace I couldn’t explain. In the following days, I was laid low. This incident was the trigger of a long viral illness, but I didn’t know that then. Horace and his wife Salome looked after me. They were Christians and believed the things I’d been reading in the gospels. All I remember thinking was I want to believe it, too. So, I did. And I still do. How have you grown spiritually and what is the biggest challenge in your Christian walk? When I first came to faith I was like a young lover, enthusiastic and evangelical about it. In those first years I received much healing from the Lord. He did a number on me. I recovered from the chronic
Photo: Rhidian Brook
Rhidian Brook has always loved writing. Starting his career as a copywriter in his mid-20s, Rhidian is now an award-winning writer of fiction, television drama and film, and regularly presents BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’. Andrew Sculthorpe and Vanessa Klomp recently had the privilege of catching up with Rhidian.
Award-winning writer of fiction, television drama and film Rhidian Brook.
viral condition; but I also received healing for psychological and emotional pain that went back to my formative years. Nicola and I got married and I started going to church – a new experience for me. The churches were generally non-conformist and charismatic in character. The style was lively and demonstrative. The teaching was orthodox and comprehensive. We were encouraged to practise what was being preached. I think my understanding of what church is has changed over the years. I take Jesus at His word on the ‘where one or two are gathered, there I’ll be’ things, as well as Paul’s notion of us being a ‘priesthood of all believers’. A trip with my wife and two children through the HIV/AIDS pandemic with The Salvation Army in 2006, compounded this belief and opened my eyes to how most of the world lives and how much of it is being held together by small acts of kindness. As I have got older, I have come to appreciate the force of grace that is at the heart of this faith. You have written several books and screenplays; do they have an underlying Christian message? My first two novels, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones and Jesus and the Adman, explored faith explicitly. The former described a young boy’s encounter with God and his attempt to understand who this
God is; the latter was more of a fable exploring a character’s fear of death. My third novel, The Aftermath, dealt with themes that might be considered ‘Christian’: reconciliation, forgiveness, justice. My latest, The Killing of Butterfly Joe, has a charismatic holy fool at its heart. My screenplays for Mr Harvey Lights a Candle and Africa United have elements of a Christian worldview. Even my first Silent Witness episode snuck Jesus into the conversation. I guess, the short answer is yes, they all have an ‘underlying Christian message’, but what do we mean when we say Christian message? In my view, it’s not the job of the writer of fiction to ‘convert’ people; didactic writing generally makes for bad art. But it is my job to enlighten and entertain, to open the mind and imagination of the reader or viewer, to describe the world as I actually see it (not just as I want to see it). Your next book, Godbothering: Thoughts 2000-2020, will be available in March. What prompted you to produce this book? I’ve been doing the ‘God slot’ or ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4’s Today program for two decades this year. The publisher SPCK approached me and said they were interested in publishing a collection of my ‘Thoughts’. I couldn’t say no!
How has your involvement in the media provided opportunities to share your faith? Do you have a stand-out memory? Aside from through the written work, opportunities for sharing my faith usually come down to individual encounters and ongoing relationships. There are too many to mention here, but there was one occasion where I found myself in a one-on-one meeting with the head of a big film studio. I’d never met him before. I had just done Thought for the Day that morning and I read him my script before pitching film ideas to him. It broke the ice. Later he commissioned the screenplay for Africa United. We’ve stayed in touch ever since and the faith conversation continues. What is on the horizon for you and what are your aspirations for the future? Being a writer is like being a farmer – with much longer seasons! You throw a lot of seeds in the hope that some take, grow and bear fruit. I have thrown a few seeds and am in that season of waiting for the next one to take. It could be the TV crime series based on my own idea; it might be the movie adaptation of The Killing of Butterfly Joe; or the musical I have been developing with a friend. All the while, the idea for my next novel is germinating. As for tomorrow, I hope to remain creative and fruitful.
growth 13 APRIL 2020
Keeping the frogs at bay When I was ten years old my family took off travelling around Australia, towing a big old caravan. We often stayed roadside and that was my favourite, but we also stayed in so many caravan parks that I considered myself an expert in the field of tourist villages and a town planner of sorts. everywhere! In every crack and crevice of the old brick ablution block, staring at me from the soap dish and lined up along the windowsill. Every time I sat to pee, I imagined a frog was going to jump up and bop me on the bottom. They were in the pool, the washing machines and when I walked through the grass, they would bounce up and hit my legs. It was simply terrifying. When I read the account in Exodus of the plagues brought down against the Egyptians, I think about those green tree frogs. In the second plague,
the frogs were in the Pharaoh’s ovens, the kneading troughs of his servants and even in his own bed. I shudder to think about it. You might know the story – the Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron to ask them to pray to take the frogs away, promising he would free the Israelites from captivity. Moses responded that he would give the Pharaoh the honour of setting the time for the prayer. “Tomorrow,” the Pharaoh said. Tomorrow! Why? The Pharaoh was given the choice and he
why we keep gaining weight, why we haven’t quit the toxic relationship or the overspending that led to that credit card debt. Let us not be like the Pharaoh. May we cry out, ‘God, come! Come now and help me fix this thing.’ Don’t let the frogs pile up. Author – Yvette Cherry Yvette Cherry serves as the WA State and National Director for Australian Baptist Women and as the Women’s Leadership Pastor with Baptist Churches Western Australia, encouraging Baptist women in leadership and ministry roles, teaching in churches and ministry groups, and coordinating the annual women’s Fresh Conference.
Photo: Shutterstock/Kurit afshen
On long boring stretches of arid landscape, I would draw detailed mud maps of the caravan park of my dreams. A pool with a slide, an immaculate camper’s kitchen with a TV, beautiful acres of lawn and cheap lollies in the kiosk. As a caravan park expert, I also knew what I didn’t want. Frogs. We stayed in a park in Far North Queensland that was overrun by ‘millions’ of green tree frogs. I imagined they were all in town for a frog convention, or a pilgrimage or something, because those frogs were
decided to sleep one more night with the frogs! Perhaps he was hoping the frogs would hop off before the prayer so he wouldn’t have to attribute it to God. Perhaps he was trying to play it cool, wanting to hold the power in some way, dictate the terms of the frog extraction so that he felt some measure of control over the situation. Maybe it was just his stubborn pride, a refusal to acknowledge that he could not solve the problem himself. It is often easier to see what another person should be doing about their frogs – ‘Change this situation now!’, we say. ‘Don’t let it keep building up!’ But when we turn it back on ourselves, it’s easy to justify why we haven’t yet had that difficult conversation,
Yvette Cherry reflects on the frogs in her own life and in the Pharaoh’s time.
One essential word to pay close attention to “Where there’s a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pew.” Howard Hendricks, the late Dallas Theological Seminary Professor. “And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?” [1 Corinthians 14:8 NLT] Having clarity can be the difference between success and failure. I’m thinking of those famous lines from the movie A Few Good Men. “Are we clear?” (Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise) “Crystal.” (Cruise to Nicholson) At an Acts 29 church planting conference a while back, one of the planters whom I coach came back with new
enthusiasm. I asked him what some of his key takeaways were from the time with these church planters and their wives. He said that if he had to sum it up in one word it would be the word: ‘Clarity.’ That immediately resonated with me and I began to reflect on the need for clarity across the board in leadership. If I am unclear about some foundational issues and ideas, then how can there be clarity for others? I believe Howard Hendricks was right. If it’s a little
unclear for the leader(s), it will be very unclear for the rest of the people. In the military the bugle sounds at different times for the troops: 1. When they wake up. 2. When they lie down. 3. When there is a funeral. 4. When they go into battle. It’s obviously critical that the right music is played at the right time to avoid confusion as to what’s to be done! I am still thinking and processing the need for ‘clarity’. Here are a few things so far: 1. Clarity on who Jesus Christ is. 2. Clarity on what He has done on the cross and through His resurrection.
Clarity on the validity and trustworthiness of the Bible. 4. Clarity on my calling, vision and gifting. 5. Clarity on where the organisation/church/ group is going. 6. Clarity on what the most important things are that we need to be working on this week/month/ quarter/year. Now, there are some things (perhaps lots of things) that we may not yet have clarity on, as 1 Corinthians 13:12a [NLT] says: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.”
I do believe, however, that we should strive for clarity, teach with clarity and lead with clarity where we are able to so as to lead the troops effectively into battle for the honour and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. What are some things that come to your mind as a leader that you and those travelling with you could profit immensely from by having greater clarity? Start with my short list above, and go from there. Author – Dave Kraft This article is republished from davekraft.org with kind permission.
14 arts APRIL 2020
New single from Wylde On 9 March, Perth singer/songwriter Jacob Wylde released his latest single Supermoon. Supermoon is his most recent offering since his 2019 EP Three Songs for New Years and a precursor to his longawaited debut album, which is due for release in the coming months.
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“The song is about childhood and dead dogs, as well as growing up and having an existential crisis under a supermoon,” Jacob said. “It’s about the concurrent beauty and insanity of life, the sadness of breakups and the benefits of singleness, the importance of self-reflection and the emptiness of selfobsession, the significance and insignificance of humanity, and ultimately the acknowledgement that I don’t really have control over any of it.” Jacob is the Operations Coordinator at Providence Church Midland, where he also leads worship. Author – John Igglesden
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Photo: Jacob Wylde
The lyrics ask questions of life and meaning, concluding that we ultimately don’t have full control over life.
Perth singer/songwriter Jacob Wylde has released a teaser single ahead of his long-awaited album.
Bieber shares faith Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has spoken openly about his faith in an interview with Apple Music. Justin returned to the music scene in February with his latest album, titled Changes, after having time off to focus on improving his physical and mental health. Justin had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, and suffered anxiety and depression. He also discovered that he had Lyme disease. “Everyone did everything for me, so I never even learned the fundamentals of responsibility,” Justin said. “By this point, I was 18 with no skills in the real world, with millions of dollars and access to whatever I wanted.” Justin credits the improvement in his health and his recent marriage to Hailey Baldwin to his reaffirmed faith in Jesus. “Luckily, God blessed me with extraordinary people who love me for me,” he said. “Now I am navigating the best season of my life, marriage! Which is an amazing, crazy, new responsibility.”
Photo: Lou Stejskal
Jacob has released three EPs over the past four years, all with the intention of building to an album. His first EP, Words, was released in 2016 and included his breakout single The Floor. Local singer and composer, Annika Moses, from the band Nika Mo, reflects on Jacob’s single. “I’ve had the utmost privilege of playing music with Jacob over the past handful of years,” Anika said. “Supermoon is one of my favourites of his … it’s beautiful and you should listen to it.” “Jake is one of the songwriters I admire most, and this song is really special.” However, the song has taken some time to come to fruition. “This is a song I’ve had hanging around for a while – I wrote and began recording it back in 2017 in my home studio, which at the time was an old horse stable tack room,” Jacob said. “It was then a work in progress for a few years, so I’m thrilled to finally get it out into the world in a state that I’m happy with.” Jacob explained that the song’s name comes from an experience during a supermoon. The lyrics ask questions of life and meaning, concluding that we ultimately don’t have full control over life. This is Jacob’s reference to God being ultimately in control.
Justin Bieber has spoken openly about his faith after struggling with drugs, Lyme disease and mental health issues.
“You learn patience, trust, commitment, kindness, humility, and all of the things it looks like to be a good man.” In the interview Justin explains the character of Jesus and the effect He has had on his recovery.
“Jesus wasn’t this religious elite guy, but He was in the dirt. And He found me in my dirt and pulled me out.” Author – John Igglesden
coffee break 15 APRIL 2020
A minute with ...
Insights of a modern-day thinker In April 2000, Rhidian Brook received the following intimidating brief from the BBC:
Kim Moore lives with disabilities that she’s had since birth. The Advocate caught up with Kim to discuss how it has impacted her personal and church life. How has having a disability affected the way you engage with your church community? Having a disability in the church context has made me acutely aware of how much stimuli and noise can be present during and after a service. For me, hearing people after a service with all the chatter can be very difficult, especially when sound absorption hasn’t been taken into account in the foyer’s furnishings and the sound echoes. Additionally, how much divisive language is in our everyday jargon, like ‘I don’t know how you do it’. Whilst a nice sentiment and a totally acceptable statement, below the surface it is at its core saying, ‘you are different to me’ and can contribute to a sense of self-victimisation or martyrdom. Please don’t stop inquiring, but perhaps alter your ‘library’ of responses to instead include things like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot, is there anything I can help with?’ or just simply, ‘That’s a big day.’ Do you feel like you can contribute to your church community? I feel like I have a lot to contribute, however, sometimes the way churches are set up environmentally and procedurally impedes or limits how I can contribute. From simple things, like kitchen taps that are inaccessible or a stage that is only stepped, to ‘fixed roster’ teams or overly dark auditoriums. What would you like churches to learn or implement in regard to people with disabilities? Are churches effective in this space? I think churches in Perth at this time, with all the secular changes (e.g. National Disability Insurance Scheme), have the opportunity to lead with a culture of universal design and social integration, and unfortunately, we’re missing the mark. I think there is still a culture of prayer and healing for the infirm, but not necessarily following through with an acceptance of said infirmity and seeing the person as a whole being with their own God-given gifts, even in their infirmity. Churches have the opportunity to afford the person the dignity and respect of being a valued and contributing member. Let’s lead the way!
“You’ve got a day. To write 500 words. About something in the news. Through the prism of your faith. But don’t preach. You must not say anything that might offend. Make sure the words contain enough theology to satisfy the remit. Stay true to your faith. While remembering that the vast majority of people out there don’t share it. There is no ‘we’ on ‘Thought for the Day’. Don’t be platitudinous. Be original. Write as though addressing one person. But deliver them to six million. You’ll be live on Radio 4. In the middle of the most influential political news program in the country. Read it in under three minutes. Ideally, two minutes and 45 seconds. Be ready for feedback. Expect criticism. Maybe even hostility. You’ll get paid £90 pounds a pop. Don’t give up the day job.” Now, after 20 years of nailing the brief, bestselling novelist and regular contributor to The Advocate, Brook has compiled more than 100 of his ‘Thoughts for the Day’ into an easy to read and thought-provoking book, titled Godbothering: Thoughts 2000-2020. Addressing topics such as ‘Why bother God?’ and ‘Why doesn’t God intervene?’ on prime-time radio can be challenging. Brook’s approach has always been to “try to put myself in the shoes or slippers of a morning listener who has other things on their mind and whose tolerance levels go off like a Geiger counter upon hearing the name of Jesus.” The result is a triumph of a book, one that has been received by
believers, agnostics and atheists alike as insightful, deeply considered, but often fun. Brook himself hasn’t always believed in Jesus, but when he came to faith he gained a powerful desire to talk about how intimately God is involved with humanity. His compelling prose has become a form of alternative history of the past 20 years and touches on major news stories ranging from Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe to the US elections, along with countless others. Offsetting these are commentaries on topics that include David Beckham’s foot, Big Brother, homelessness and cricket. A wonderful book from a modernday original thinker and master of communication. When Laurie Maguire, a Professor of English at Oxford says, “Gems on every page. I found myself stimulated, challenged, enlightened and moved”, you know Brook can write. Equally, when John Humphrys, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today program for more than 30 years, states: “The problem with Rhidian’s ‘Thoughts’ is how often I find myself agreeing with him. Most annoying!”, you know that you won’t just enjoy the book, you’ll read it again and again. Book reviewed by Andrew Sculthorpe. Andrew Sculthorpe is the Managing Partner at imageseven.
What do you think God’s been saying to you recently about your gifts in this space? I personally feel like the past year and a bit, that God has been nudging me to tell my story and to effect change through the story He has given me. I am terrified by the thought of this but also excited about that future.
Q. What is the difference between Jesus and pizza? A. Jesus can't be topped. Award-winning author Rhidian Brook’s latest book, Godbothering, is a collection of more than 100 of his ‘Thoughts for the Day’ from BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
letters to the editor send us your letters The Advocate welcomes your letters to the editor on topics of concern to you and the community. Send your letters of no more than 100 words to email@example.com by the 10th of each month.
16 sport APRIL 2020
Photo: Runner Church
Church on the run
Members of the US-based Runner Church use running to share Christ with fellow runners, regardless of background or belief.
During a dark night of anguish and disappointment, Jimmy Brown felt the strong call of God to relinquish his paid role as a Baptist minister, to reach a specific group of people he had grown to love: runners. Jimmy became a Christian at age 14, but nothing much followed his conversion in the way of fruitful discipleship. Ten years later Jimmy met his wife Paula and they both embarked on a range of ministries including church planting and following a call into ordained ministry. During this time Jimmy had become a runner, particularly ultratrail runs. The scene of his biggest disappointment was the Leadville Trail 100-mile run, in the Colorado Rockies, where runners climb to a height of 12,600 feet. Jimmy missed the cut-off at the 60-mile mark by four minutes. Later that sleepless night, in his hotel room, he felt the call of God: “During the night I woke up and God began to pour out these ideas and concepts about Runner Church. I got back to Omaha [Nebraska] and the next few weeks were spent processing those ideas, praying through
what it might look like. We talked with church leadership. Our lead pastor encouraged us to step away from serving on staff to launch Runner Church. I resigned as associate pastor in the Spring of 2016. We had our first Sunday gathering for Runner Church in May 2016.” “In one sense, Runner Church’s origin can be traced back ten years, when God put a missional mindset into us. It became part of our spiritual DNA. That’s when we started viewing our neighbourhood as our mission field and everyday life as an opportunity to demonstrate and live the gospel to those around us.” “The church I was a part of was in a transformative season, examining how Jesus modelled discipleship, and what it looked like for the early church to carry out the Great Commission. At that point I had made a lot of connections, and friendships, within our local running community. There is such a bond that develops when you spend so much time running together. I noticed that a lot, even a majority, were unchurched. Yet, there was an element of faith and spirituality that was present there. So, this relationship between my faith and my hobby started to not be so separate in how God was stirring in my heart.” “Our target is runners of all paces and distances, road
runners, trail runners, etc. We say runners are welcome regardless of their background and belief. The biggest reason our target group is not reached by church is schedule. What is traditional church time is prime running time, trainings and race days. Our thinking was, if they don’t want to go to a traditional church, then our aim is to take the church to them. We talk about taking ownership of the intersections – when and where are the runners present? We go there. We be the church, we bring the family of God to them, show them what Jesus is to us, and Jesus through us.” “We see a disciple as a follower of Jesus. Discipleship then is the ongoing process of following Jesus and disciple making is the ongoing process of helping others follow Jesus. We strive to help runners to take the next step in their spiritual journey with Jesus. For some people that step is just to voice their scepticism. There are literally thousands of steps that may lie before any unique person. Our aim is to help them identify what that next step is, show them the model, means and motivation that’s found in the gospel.” The Runner Church process begins with time spent running together. There is a 15-minute devotional before the run, where the Bible is unpacked and the
gospel explained. In addition, there are Sunday night home group studies where runners gather around a meal, talk about their week and study the Bible. Runners are encouraged to join a local church as well. They run together during the week, gather together as runners on Sunday morning, gather together on Sunday evening, get involved in local churches and do life together as much as possible at other times. “We’re looking to help people take the next step in their spiritual
journey with Christ. To equip them so that they can go and help other people take the next step in their journey. To reproduce their faith,” Jimmy said. Author – Stan Fetting For more information, visit runnerchurch.com This article was originally published in Crossover Australia’s Spring edition of PRAC magazine and is republished with kind permission.
The Advocate is the source that Christians across Western Australia turn to each month for news, information, comment and entertainment.
Published on Apr 1, 2020
The Advocate is the source that Christians across Western Australia turn to each month for news, information, comment and entertainment.